Andy Rogers, MD of branded social game studio Enteraction, is convinced that the Facebook bubble is far from over.
The creator of the Coronation St Facebook game Corrie Nation argued at Evolve In London today that owners of non-gaming brands were increasingly planning to release social titles based on their properties.
"People in the UK especially didn't have gaming as a brand in their budget [this year]", he observed. "In the US it's different – I don't need to tell them about the background to social gaming."
2011 would see a surge rather than reduction in branded social games, he felt. "Next year, we're seeing everybody putting this into their budget. All of the major brands are doing this in some form."
"Don't underestimate the opportunity," he warned developers who were hesitant to enter the social space.
Observing that Facebook was targeting 1 billion users and thus had a potential 50 per cent of growth yet to come, he claimed of social games that "I don't think that's a bubble, we've got a good couple of years just on the Facebook platform alone."
One of the benefits of taking brands such as Coronation Street to social games is that it "provides incremental revenue on a freemium model which doesn't cannibalise anything else you're doing - apps, tv shows, console games... The more we go to disparate devices, the more we'll see this. It's all incremental. It's all good."
That said, he observed that "two networks in the States recently took their daytime soaps off-air, citing Facebook as having cannibalised their audience.
"If you take [social gaming average user surveys] as read that it's 43 year old, mostly female audience – it's a daytime TV audience.
"It's very interesting that people's activity is changing. Social gaming, just this trend means it won't go away. It's a different kind of a trend for a wide, wide range of people."
While he was broadly optimistic about social gaming's future, Rogers was clear that the sector was not without risks.
"There's no guarantee of players, especially in unbranded games – unless you produce some extremely compelling gameplay, and that's one in a hundred.
"There's more time and more effort being spent on these games now, and that has an impact on cost. We've seen that first hand, we've had to spend a good chunk of money to build a team and support these games."
However, he claimed that brand owners coming to established companies such as Enteraction to produce social game spin-offs of their properties would "minimise the risk, to bring the price point to where it's possible to do games for single brands."
Rogers also argued against taking creative risks. "It's no coincidence that Corrie is a resource management game. We could have done anything, but we did that because of behavioural momentum. We wanted people who used Facebook to go on there and know what they were doing.
"Don't take a brand and try to do something abstract with it in a social game environment. People have a momentum with the brand, to force it into something else will probably mean you will be less successful."